‘Living’ the Dream

Author: Kate Ross

Abby Urban Hometown Living

During her senior year last spring, Gallivan Program alumna Abby Urban ’23 joined the production staff of the lifestyle program HomeTown Living. A Film, Television and Theatre major at Notre Dame, Urban began working full-time after graduating and now serves as a co-host for the show that airs live at 9 a.m. Monday through Friday on WSBT in South Bend.

It took time for Urban to feel up to the role.

“Those first six months I was like, ‘What am I saying?’ I’m just so hard on myself,” she says. “I would say, honestly, only in the past month or two have I felt like I’m really hitting my stride.”

Any doubts she felt while still in college didn’t dampen her determination to pursue the opportunity. She encourages others to take the same approach. Put yourself out there, she advises. A little boldness can go a long way.

“Even if you don’t think you’re ready, try to find people who can be great mentors,” Urban says. “That job that says you need two years of experience? I would say ignore that and just apply and be persistent — because you never know what can happen.”

Producing HomeTown Living is a team effort, she emphasizes. Urban and co-host Jackie Jerlecki get the airtime, but what the audience sees on television is the culmination of a collective, behind-the-scenes process of professionals working together.

“The person who’s behind the camera, the person who’s in front of the camera, the person who’s in the booth running all the production cues,” Urban says, “we all really have to trust each other.”

Each day, Urban’s responsibilities include about five minutes dedicated to a live interview. As she has become a more confident host, she finds herself better able to put guests at ease, fostering engaging exchanges.

“I think my favorite thing is having the ability to make people feel comfortable and allow them to have a great conversation with me,” Urban says. “I see that transformation of them feeling really nervous to really loving the interview.”

One of Urban’s favorite interviews was with Gladys Muhammad, who worked for the South Bend Heritage Foundation. Muhammad received the 2023 Dorothy Richardson Award for Resident Leadership, a national honor recognizing her decades of service to the local community.

“I was so inspired by her — she was such a lovely woman,” Urban says. “It just reminded me why I’m doing what I’m doing.”

Kate Ross is a senior American studies major and journalism minor.